Welcome

 

Welcome to the website of the Montreal folkgrass trio Steel Rail. Strong original material, superb three-part harmonies and hot picking have helped Tod Gorr, Ellen Shizgal and Dave Clarke win a loyal fan base in Central Canada. After almost a decade of living on opposite ends of the continent, the threesome are back together in Quebec, making new acoustic music that reflects the best of the folk, bluegrass and country traditions.

Check out our latest album, Coming Home.

Join our mailing list for the latest news

May 17, 2022 

R.I.P. Michael Wrycraft


Like so many musicians in Canada, we were saddened to learn of the death of Michael Wrycraft, a brilliant album cover designer and a passionate friend and music lover.

Michael designed the cover of the most recent Steel Rail album, Coming Home (shown here), as well as two Dave Clarke albums. He was a larger than life individual and someone who made a profound contribution to the roots music community in Canada.

You can read more about Michael's life in this Roots Music Canada article. He will be greatly missed. 

 

April 4, 2022 

Fun at Festival de la voix 

Thanks to everyone who joined us at the Festival de la voix in Hudson, Que., on April 3.

It was great to see so many people in beautiful St. Thomas Aquinas Church in our first concert in about 18 months. What a treat to be able to play some old favourites (Like a Ship) and new songs (Kate's Song) that feature the strong vocals and harmonies of Tod, Ellen and Dave.

We also enjoyed the spectacular singing and playing of the musicians with whom we shared the bill: Kerry-Anne Kutz on vocals with Mike Cartile on trumpet and Chad Linsley on piano.

Thanks to Kerry-Anne, who brought us to the festival, to Duke on sound,and, of course, to everyone who came to the show on a brisk -- our British friends might say "parky" -- spring day.

Here are Tod and Ellen getting ready for the show.

By the way, there is still some great music ahead at the festival. You can find details for the closing concert April 9 here.
 

April 1, 2022 

Interview on CBC Montreal Sunday

Thanks to CBC music columnist Duke Eatmon, who spent some time with Ellen and Dave today talking about Steel Rail's origins and musical journey.

The interview Duke recorded with them will be aired on Sunday, April 3, at 7:40 a.m. on the Quebec-wide morning show All in a Weekend.

The interview was planned to coincide with Steel Rail's appearance at the Festival de la Voix in Hudson, Quebec, on Sunday afternoon. For more information, or to buy tickets ($30 for adults, $25 for students and seniors) please click here.

March 5, 2022 

Festival de la Voix show in Hudson April 3

We're delighted to announce that we'll be performing as part of the Festival de la Voix in Hudson on April 3. 

The 3 p.m. concert is part of the ninth edition of the festival, which takes place in various locations around Montreal Island between March 19 and April 10. 

The festival was founded in 2012 by singer and voice teacher Kerry-Anne Kutz and her students Sonia Castiglione and Sheila Faour-Warren to celebrate exceptional professional singers and instrumentalists of various genres.

This year's version features performances by Choralissimo! (March 19), Oliver Forest and the Imani Gospel Singers (March 26) and Dark Divas (April 2), among others.

Steel Rail will be joined by Kerry-Anne, her musical partner Mike Cartile and pianist Chad Linsley in the April 3 show.

Tickets are $30; $25 for seniors and students. To buy tickets, please click  here.

January 14, 2022 

Steel Rail on Freewheeling Folk

What a nice way to start a new year. Venerable folk DJ Jim Marino is featuring Steel Rail and Dave Clarke on his Jan. 15 Freewheeling Folk Show at 93.3 CFMU in Hamilton, Ontario.

JIm will feature Steel Rail in the first half hour of the show, starting at 9:30 a.m. Then it's on to the music of Steel Rail guitarist Dave Clarke, with Dave live in conversation with Jim at 11 a.m.

You can find details of the January 15 show on the Freewheeling Folk Facebook page here. Thanks for the support, Jim, not only of Steel Rail and Dave, but hundreds of other folk artists over the past 28 years. 

 

 

October 18, 2021 

CFMA nomination for Dave! 

We're delighted to announce that Dave is one of five nominees in the solo instrumental category at the Canadian Folk Music Awards. 

Dave joins Olivier Demers, Maneli Jamal, Adam Young and Cédric Dind-Lavoie in the category Instrumental Solo Artist of the Year. Dave was nominated for his new album The Healing Garden. 

The CFMAs will be held on the weekend of April 1-3, 2022. 

You can read about all the amazing nominees here. 

Thanks to all the organizers and judges who make these great awards happen.

June 21, 2021  

Our new single is out!

We're pleased to report that we are releasing Kate's Song from our latest album as a single this week.

The song, written by Ellen, celebrates the resiliency of the human spirit -- something that seems fitting as we seem to be emerging from the pandemic in North America. 

Kate’s Song was written after Ellen saw Kate McGarrigle perform at the Royal Albert Hall shortly before her death. Then when she saw footage of people singing after a devastating earthquake, she was inspired to write about humankind’s ability to find comfort in music in the darkest times. 

The song quickly became a band favourite. And we're not the only ones.

Longtime friend -- and multiple Juno Award-winner -- David Francey calls the song a “gem.” “There’s such a hopeful melancholy woven into this melody, and such a compassionate grace inherent in the lyrics,” he said. 

The song features longtime McGarrigle collaborator Joel Zifkin in a soaring violin part. 

"I am grateful to have been able to play a part in Steel Rail’s lovely impressionistic ode to this human spirit," Joel told us. 

And renowned DJ Michael Regenstreif, the dean of Canadian folk journalists, wrote that Kate's Song is "about grief and, ultimately, the healing power of music. In the opening verse, we bear witness to the final song of the final performance of friend and beloved singer-songwriter Kate McGarrigle, just six weeks before she passed away from cancer at age 63. In the second verse, the song takes us to Haiti, where a devastating earthquake a few weeks after Kate’s last song took the lives of many thousands of people, and we hear about a survivor whose grief is comes out in the song he sings. In the final verse, the focus becomes universal as all of us find solace in song and 'sing till we can sing no more.'"

In case you missed it, you can hear Kate's Song here

Stay tuned for more good Steel Rail news soon.

February 16, 2021 

International recognition for Dave's guitar music 

Great news -- Dave's instrumental A Thousand Days Like This was a winner at the U.S.-based International Acoustic Music Awards, announced Feb. 12.  

The song, one of 12 on Dave's new album The Healing Garden, was first runner-up in the Instrumental category. Top prize went to another guitarist, John McMillan.  

The IAMA awards recognize excellence in acoustic music, and judging is based on performance, songwriting/composition/song choice, music production and originality/artistry.  

If you'd like to see the winners in other IAMA categories, click here.  

For more news about Dave's new album, please click here.

January 17, 2021  

Critics name Coming Home one of top 2020 albums

Thanks to the Canadian folk Bible Penguin Eggs and to the musical experts who take part every year voting in the magazine's annual top albums of the year list.

We're pleased to report that Steel Rail's 2020 release Coming Home was among the top 10 picks for several of the voters this year, and the band was one of two honourable mentions in the overall Top 10 list. We thought we'd post those selections so you can see the other great albums that were on people's must-listen lists this year.

The lists are in alphabetical order; each "pick" counted for one vote.

Mike Barker, artistic director, Folk Under the Clock, Peterborough, Ontario 

  • Sam Carter, Home Waters 
  • Kris Drever, Where the World Is Thin 
  • Bob Dylan, Rough and Rowdy Ways 
  • Roy Forbes, Edge of Blue 
  • Sam Lee, Old Wow 
  • Catherine MacLellan, Coyote 
  • Pharis and Jason Romero, Bet on Love 
  • Steel Rail, Coming Home 
  • The Waterboys, Where the Action Is 
  • James Webster, We Get By 

  Patrick Langston, freelance arts writer 

  • Bob Dylan, Rough and Rowdy Ways 
  • Eliza Gilkyson, 2020 
  • Fleet Foxes, Shore 
  • Laura Marling, Song for Our Daughter 
  • Lynn Miles, We’ll Look for Stars 
  • Owen Pallet, Island 
  • Pharis and Jason Romero, Bet on Love 
  • Phoebe Bridgers, Punisher 
  • Shirley Collins, Heart’s Ease 
  • Steel Rail, Coming Home 

  Jim Marino, host Free Wheeling Folk Show, 93.3 CFMU, Hamilton 

  • Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, King of This Town 
  • David Bradstreet, Best Foot Forward 
  • Scott Cook, Tangle of Souls 
  • Ken Dunn, Ashes in the Morning 
  • Kathleen Edwards, Total Freedom 
  • Rick Fines, Solar Powered Too 
  • Lynne Hanson, Just Words 
  • Lynn Miles, We’ll Look for Stars 
  • Julian Taylor, The Ridge 
  • Steel Rail, Coming Home

Mike Regenstreif, journalist, CKCU Ottawa folk radio host, blogger  

  • Eliza Gilkyson, 2020  
  • Kronos Quartet, Long Time Passing: Kronos Quartet and Friends Celebrate Pete Seeger  
  • Leyla McCalla, Varied Coloured Songs: A Tribute to Langston Hughes  
  • John McCutcheon, Cabin Fever: Songs From the Quarantine  
  • Lynn Miles, We’ll Look for Stars  
  • Gretchen Peters, The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury  
  • Orit Shimoni, Strange and Beautiful Things  
  • Steel Rail, Coming Home  
  • VickiKristinaBarcelona, Pawn Shop Radio  
  • Samoa Wilson with the Jim Kweskin Band, I Just Want to Be Horizontal  

Brenda Tacik, host, Deeper Well, CJTR, Regina Community Radio  

  • Jud Caswell, Live at the Seagull Shop  
  • Scott Cook, Tangle of Souls  
  • Vance Gilbert, Good Good Man  
  • Jay and Jo, Victory  
  • Jez Lowe, Crazy Pagan  
  • Lynn Miles, We’ll Look for Stars  
  • Possessed by Paul James, As We Go Wandering  
  • Pharis and Jason Romero, Bet on Love  
  • Rube and Rake, Leaving With Nothing  
  • Steel Rail, Coming Home

And the overall Top 10 list as chosen by Penguin Eggs experts:

1. Pharis and Jason Romero, Bet on Love

2. Bob Dylan, Rough and Rowdy Ways; Kathleen Edwards, Total Freedom; William Prince, Reliever (tied)

5. 100 Mile House, Love and Leave You; Shirley Collins, Heart's Ease; Scott Cook, Tangle of Souls; Eliza Gilkyson, 2020; Sarah Jarosz, World on the Ground; Lynn Miles, We'll Look for Stars (tied).

Runners up

Steel Rail, Coming Home; Molly Tuttle, .. But I'd Rather Be With You

 

December 27, 2020 

RIP Tony Rice

Tony Rice, who defined modern bluegrass guitar, died Dec. 25. He was 69.

He influenced every acoustic picker we know, including Dave, who remembers having his mind blown hearing Tony gambol through a short, sweet solo on The Old Home Place with J.D. Crowe on a cassette tape back when Dave was touring Quebec with the White River Bluegrass Band.

We saw him a number of times in the 1990s at festivals like Winterhawk. On one memorable night, he turned up at a parking lot picking session that ended up with Jimmy Gaudreau, David Grisman and Jeff White. It was unforgettable, partly because it was so much fun, and because there were only a dozen or so people there to hear that amazing music.

Although he had health issues and never regained his voice after being stricken with dysphonian in the 1990s, his legend never diminished. Here`s the obituary in Rolling Stone. 

And here he is playing and singing Church Street Blues, a song that Steel Rail used to do in the wayback. 

Previous events

May8

Steel Rail

Jan23

Steel Rail - House Concert

Morin Heights, QC

Happy new year, everyone

We're starting 2019 with a chilly flashback -- Tod walking down the centre of a secondary highway in west-central Quebec in what became the cover for our first release, A Thousand Miles of Snow.
A couple of things about the photo, taken by our talented friend Nancy Ackerman. 1. It truly was freezing that early March day near Rigaud. 2. You can faintly see some car headlights materializing over Tod's right shoulder. Several other vehicles, including an 18-wheeler, were dodged before Nancy finally got this shot.
Speaking of releases, we are happy to report that Steel Rail is finally in a studio working on some tracks for our next album. Like A Thousand Miles of Snow, it is being co-produced by our good friend Bill Garrett. We'll keep you posted re: progress as the winter progresses.
In the meantime, all the best for 2019.